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Press Release: CTU files charges on behalf of Black School Teachers Unfairly Laid Off by the Board of Education

02/08/2012

CHICAGO – The Chicago Teachers Union and four tenured teachers today filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that the Board’s 2011 layoff policy has had a disparate impact on black teachers.

In the 2011 school year, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) employed 16,716 tenured teachers, of which 47 percent were Caucasian and 29 percent were African American. However, of the tenured teachers affected by the 2011 layoffs, 43 percent were black, 36 percent were white and 21 percent were other minorities. 

“The Board’s lay off policy has had a systemic, class-wide, disparate impact on African American teachers,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “We believe this policy violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and should be prosecuted by the EEOC.”

Though the EEOC charges were filed by teachers Terri Fells, Phyllis Carter, Lillian Edmonds and Josephine Perry, the case seeks restitution for 365 other African American teachers who were laid off pursuant to the Board’s 2011 layoff policy.  

“This unjust lay-off has been the source of much distress for my family. We are at-risk of losing our home and are now trying to obtain means of retaining it. The unavailability of funds has resulted in dire distress and the necessity to procure loans to meet each month’s expenses for our family of four,” Fells said in her EEOC charge.

Fells, was laid-off from Alonzo Stagg Elementary after 28 years of CPS employment, due to a reduction in staff.  With 30 years total teaching experience, a M.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction/ Early Childhood Education and an endorsement in French, there were many teachers with fewer credentials that should have been chosen to be laid-off.

Carter, a CPS teacher for nine years, was laid off from Miles Davis Magnet due to what the Board called a “reallocation of funds.” Edmonds, a teacher for 18 years, was laid off despite being the most experienced teacher at Henderson Elementary School.  Similarly, Perry worked at CPS for 18 years. She too was laid off from Henry O. Tanner Elementary after the Board declared her position closed due to a “reallocation of funds.”

In addition to the racial disparity in the teacher layoffs, there are disparities regarding the schools from which teachers were laid off. The 930 school-based teachers laid off at the end of the 2010/2011 school year are 4.4 percent of teachers working in schools. However, these layoffs were twice as likely to occur at schools with greater than average concentrations of low-income students or African American students.

The four teachers and the CTU are being represented by Robin Potter & Associates.

Chicago Teachers Union